Collection inventory

Special Collections home page

Album of Isidore van Kinsbergen Photographs

An inventory of the collection at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: SM
Date: 08 Sept 2016

Biographical History

Isidore van Kinsbergen (Flemish-Dutch, 1821-1905) was a man of the theater, a painter, lithographer and photographer. He is best known for his early photographs of cultural sites on the Indonesian island of Java, published e.g. in the series "Antiquities of Java" and "Borobudur." Van Kinsbergen started out as a portrait artist and lithographer, with strong ties to the theater and opera scene. It was a French opera group that brought him to the Dutch colony of Batavia (modern Djakarta on Java) in 1851 where he became a driving force not only of the art scene but also for the documentation and preservation of Java's rich cultural heritage. He had discovered for himself the new medium of photography and was the first to work with albumen prints in Batavia. After a first government commission on a diplomatic mission to the court of Siam (modern Thailand) in February 1862, van Kinsbergen was hired by the Batavian Society of Arts and Sciences at the end of the same year to produce about 300 wet plate prints (clich├ęs) for a publication on Java's antiquities by J.F.G. Brumund, Reverend of the Batavian Evangelic Community and an expert in Java's history and culture. Van Kinsbergen left Batavia for this four-year-long photographic journey in 1863. Later on, the Society allowed him to work independently from Brumund and to approach the monuments in his own way, for example, the ancient Buddhist temple of Borobudur in 1873. In the same year, his work was shown at the International Exhibition of Vienna and later in 1878 at the World Exhibition in Paris where he earned a medal and inspired other artists such as Gauguin. [Source: Theuns-de Boer, Gerda (March 2002). "Java through the Eyes of Van Kinsbergen." The Newsletter. International Institute of Asian Studies (27): 32. Retrieved 18 August 2016 from]

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Album of Isidore van Kinsbergen Photographs contains van Kinsbergen's photographs of Javanese rulers such as Hamengkoeboewono VI (or Mangkoeboemi VI, 1855-1877) Sultan of Djokjakarta (Jogjakarta, Java Island), Pakoe Alam IV (1864-1878), ruler of Pakoealaman (Java Island), Mangkoe-Negoro IV (or Mangkunegara IV, 1853-1881), ruler of Soerakarta, his wife Midden Java and others. It also contains pictures of soldiers, buildings in Batavia (modern Jakarta), of Javanese people, the countryside, and the ancient Buddhist temple of Borobudur that can be attributed to Isidore van Kinsbergen, often accompanied by hand written notes. There are as well a few private photographs of unknown origin.

Arrangement of the Collection

Photographs in the album remain in original order.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Subject Headings


Kinsbergen, Isidore van, 1821-1905.


Painters as photographers.
Photographers -- Indonesia.
Photography -- Indonesia.


Indonesia -- History.
Indonesia -- Kings and rulers.
Jakarta (Indonesia) -- Pictorial works.
Java (Indonesia) -- Pictorial works.

Genres and Forms



Architecture photographers.
Portrait photographers.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Album of Isidore van Kinsbergen Photographs,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information


Table of Contents